THE ASAHI SHIMBUNOctober 31, 2016 at 16:40 JST
Via Asahi newspaper
THE ASAHI SHIMBUNOctober 31, 2016 at 16:40 JST
Via Asahi newspaper
For celebrating festivities or a moment of wishing good fortune and be superstitious, we have a tradition in Japan to use crafts and wear things like Kimono, which certain patterns so called Kisshō-Monyō (吉祥文様) – auspicious omens motives are applied. Beginning of new year is one of such moments.
There are several motives inspired by living creatures, such as fishes, animals, birds, plants, flowers and fruits, or tools used in a festivities. Living creatures such as dragon, phenix, crane or pine, bamboo, plum and more, often symbolize long lives, good harvest, blessing of rains, eternal love. These pattens are used as a motif of porcelains, lacquer wears or clothes (becomes kimono and obi).
It is unfortunate that the custom has been disappearing and it is not at least something we proactively enjoy in our lives. We only see it in the formalized traditional events without paying too much attentions.
There are many kinds of particular patterns used for celebrating festivities but I would like to pick up a pattern called Hōrai-mon (蓬莱文) this time.
The concept of Hōraisan(蓬莱山) came from China. From 2500 years ago, people believed that there is a utopia island in the eastern see of China. Hōrai mountain is on the island where a legendary wizard lives who is no aging nor death. Hōrai mountain was also believed as high so to extend to the heaven. At the bottom of the mountain, there is a river where dragons live. On the top of the mountain, phenix that can climb to the heaven lives by eating peaches and peers.
Interestingly, at the era of the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty (秦始皇帝, BC259~), Hōraisan – a utopia island was believed to be located where Japan is. The record said that the First Emperor of the Qin sent people to the island in far east to investigate the Utopia and there are more than 10 places that the Qin’s messengers visited in Japan from the north to the south.
Hōraisan that symbolize immortality evolved to be one of auspicious omens motives. Today we can find Hōraisan pattern in crafts, architectures, garden, paintings and fairly tales.
Hōraisan-mon consists pine trees, cranes, turtles and plum blossoms – those are all considered as auspicious. Hōrai mountain is built on the carapace of a turtle. it is therefore, even if one tries to capture the Utopia, it runs away quickly so that one can never be able to acquire it.
In the centre pond of Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art / KINARE, a huge mountain was exhibited till September 27, 2015.
This mountain is the artwork, Penglai / Hōrai, by Cai Guo-Qiang (蔡國強), an internationally acclaimed Chinese comtemporary artist. You may know him as a Creative director for the opening and closing ceremony of Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The theme of this dynamic installation is, as you can guess from the title of the artwork – Penglai/Hōrai, the legendary utopia island.
It is only a month from now to unveil the impressive solo exhibition “Cai Guo-Qiang : Penglai/Horai”.
Cali expressed humour and ironies in this installation by responding the recent source of tension around ‘islands’ among countries in East Asia. From the front, the island is covered by rich greenery trees and thousands of straw-made birds and objects are laid around the island. But going around the back, one realizes that the island is just like a standing signboard.
People dream of a Utopia. It is the same now as of old. But if we are tenacious in our pursuit of capturing it, we will only get lost. Remember! a Utopia is on the carapace of a turtle! It just agilely escape and you may lose even a illusion of Utopia completely from your mind.
I visited Fendi pop-up store in Ginza, which opened in November 20 2015 for 50th anniversary of the first shop opening in Japan.
Fendi is one of my favourite brands but the purpose of my visit was to have a look at Makoto Azuma (東信）‘s fur tree that is exhibited at the centre of the boutique.
Fendi is an Italian luxury brand, which collection includes ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, fragrances, eyewear, but the brand is originated from fur and leather goods and it is still renowned for its exquisite creations on fur and fur accessories. Fur Tree by Makoto Azuma represents the root of the brand.
Makoto Azuma is the Tokyo-based flower artist, who is known for his botanical sculptures. Azuma places live pine trees inside a steel cube. The contrast of nature and armor increases its beauty of pine’s form. He chose pine tree as it is believed that Gods dwell in the tree.
Azuma worked on the installation of the pine tree (so-called ‘Shiki’) in awe-inspiring locations and surprising settings on earth. Placed on a yellow expanse of sand dunes, floating along glaciers in a turquoise sea, underwater, under water fall, or on an abandoned power plant. ‘Shiki’ was even sent into space.
When I heard about the fur tree in Fendi Pop-up store, I expected the same sort of unique and dynamic installation as his series of work with ‘Shiki’, but I was a little disappointed by the tree. The large tree seems uncomfortably sitting in unsuitable small space. Fur tree may be missing gods.
The process of creating fur tree can be seen in the below YouTube video.
I would like to introduce some of Azuma‘s great work with ‘Shiki’ series.
If you are interested in Makoto Azuma, you can find more info from here.
Azuma Makoto’s Exhibition is available:
Date: November 13, 2015 – January 17, 2016
Place: Le colysee in Lambersart, Lille metropole, France
Wishing you a Happy New Year with the hope that you will have many blessings and your creative dreams come true in 2016.
Thank you all for visiting my blog and see you soon in 2016 with new contents in Takumist.
I had a chance to meet with a young talented artist, Mai Kitai (北井真衣) from Kanazawa. She makes Kutani porcelain by using the technic inspired by Mokubei Aoki, who is a porcelain artist back in 17th Century and was brought to Kutani to re-established Kutani ware.
“I have heard that Kutani porcelains use motives from a slice of daily life, that inspired me” – Mai Kitai
What I was most interested was her unique themes and motifs. Working woman on her way to the office, two business men exchanging a business card, a girl applying a mascara sitting down on a bench at a part…… A slice of our modern life is drawn in her own nonchalant touches. Those scenes seem so familiar and provoke laughter.
The below pictures are only some example of teacups. The price for one cut is 8,000 yen (excluding tax).
I am keen to see how her work will evolve. I am sure her style will attract new segment of people to the world of Kutani ware.
About Mai Kitai:
Born in 1985 in kanazawa. Ceramic artist. After graduated from Kanazawa Kogyo University in 2008, she decided to pursue her career as a ceramic artist. She graduated from Kanazawa college of art and gained a master degree in 2015. She selects what she feels and observes in the modern daily life as a theme for her work. Once the theme is applied to her work, the familiar everyday life becomes unusual. She wants to express this transformation into a form of commodity products.
If you are interested in her work;
Kokoshi cafe (http://kokoshi-cafe.com/?mode=grp&gid=957512)
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was the first Japanese artist to be internationally recognized, and he continues to inspire artists around the world.
The exhibition is running during April 5, 2015 – August 9, 2015 at Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)
Museum of Fine Arts Boston is the home of the largest and finest collection of Japanese art outside Japan.
From The New York Times:
A promotion in which visitors posed in a kimono before a Monet painting was recast after protests surfaced online.
The article is here.
The recent removal of Makoto Aida’s artwork “檄” from Museum of Contemporary Art is a similar case. The art is 6 meter long white banner hanging from the ceiling, where he expresses his opinion toward the Ministry of Education by the bold touch of brush. There was only one claim to the museum to conclude with this decision.
I would like to close this blog with a famous quote of Voltaire, a French philosopher:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”